On April 22, the Florida Senate voted 22-17 in favor of a bill that would allow teachers to carry guns in classrooms. The bill passed along party lines, Republicans - except for one - voted in favor and Democrats opposed.
The bill isn't law yet, but it's expected to pass the Republican majority House and already has the support of the governor who's expected to sign it into law once it reaches his desk.
I'm not pro guns or against them, but I think there are times and places when guns are needed and ones where they aren't. I think the latter would be true in this case.
For one, it is not the teachers' job to have to fight off attackers or defend students with a gun. Their job is to teach and counsel students, an already difficult thing to do, and deal with students who may be special needs or require extra attention. Why add guns to the mix? Why should they have to worry about fighting off attackers, when they need to be focusing on their class and students?
I get it that the bill doesn't require teachers to carry guns, it only gives them the option to do so. It also requires them to get training beforehand. However, I think this concept is all wrong. This is not the job teachers signed up for, neither is it something they wanted to do, otherwise, they would have chosen to be police officers or security guards. This idea is a stopgap measure to address a problem without fixing it. Why not invest in our schools instead by adding more mental health counselors to address the increasing mental health problems that seem to be behind a lot of these shootings?
I would argue that even if teachers got the training that's required, they would still not be in the best position to deal with the split-second decision needed in a possible shooting scenario. Teachers have to deal with a lot of stress in their jobs and this can make it harder for them to be on top of their game. They're not constantly getting trained and prepared to deal with this situation, so why not add more security guards instead?
Allowing teachers to carry guns in classrooms could possibly lead to deadly accidents. If a teacher has in the back of his or her mind the idea that they might have to use this gun to defend their school, they're more likely to be fast at pulling out the gun if they think something is going wrong. I can imagine a possible scenario where a student acts erratically or makes a bad joke and gets accidentally shot or worse killed. With their training, teachers could possibly defuse a situation or provide calm and safety for students in a chaotic situation. That's what they should be doing, not using guns.
The majority of people in Florida oppose this idea, according to polls. Even the victims of the horrific school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, are opposed to this idea. Shouldn't we listen to them?
I think there are other non-lethal methods that could be used by teachers to protect themselves and their students. Things like pepper spray, but that shouldn't be something they plan to use it should just act as a backup. Their safety and security should be taken care of by implementing extra security measures or adding security personnel, and not by arming the teachers. Teachers already work hard enough for low wages let's give them a break!